Electoral College Members Demand An Intelligence Briefing On Russia’s Influence Over U.S. Election
“Allegations that Donald Trump was receiving assistance from a hostile foreign power to win the election began months before Election Day”
Donald Trump will not officially win the 2016 presidential election until the Electoral College votes on December 19th. Although college members rarely cast a ballot against the candidate they’re pledged to vote for, a recent CIA report may provide a compelling reason for electors to reject Trump. Last Friday, the CIA concluded that Russia and Wikileaks conspired to help Donald Trump win the presidency. Given the far-reaching implications of the CIA report, ten Electoral College members have asked the U.S Director of Intelligence for a briefing on Trump’s ties to Russia.
According to Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist Papers, the Electoral College serves to prevent foreign powers from gaining “an improper ascendant in our councils.” Hamilton believes the best way for a foreign power such as Russia to do so would be to raise “a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union.” So the question remains: Is Donald Trump such a creature? Trump, his cabinet, and campaign advisors have numerous questionable ties to Russia, some of which are outlined below:
— Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship medal in 2012 and opposed U.S. sanctions against Moscow
— Trump’s former foreign policy advisor, Carter Paige, is under scrutiny from the FBI for his ties to Moscow
— Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, received $12.7 in cash from former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych
— Trump encouraged Russia to hack Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails back in July. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
— Ivanka Trump is friends with rumored girlfriend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Wendi Deng Murdoch
— Donald Trump, Jr. claimed his family has deep business ties to Russia. “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” the president-elect’s son said, according to teTurboNews. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
— Trump also defended Putin’s alleged killing of journalists. “He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” Trump said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Confronted with the CIA’s conclusion that Russia helped him win the presidency, Trump’s transition teamed slammed the powerful intelligence agency. “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” Trump’s transition team said in a statement. “The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.’ ” In just six weeks, Trump will take an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, why would he bash the CIA for investigating foreign intrusion into an election?
The CIA’s revelation combined with Trump’s ties to Russia have prompted members of the U.S. Electoral College to demand an intelligence briefing on this issue from the Director of National Intelligence. The ten-member team including Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, Christine, and a former member of Congress, sent an open letter to Director James Clapper, requesting a briefing.
Here’s the letter, in full:
Open Letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper:
We are Electors who were selected by the voters of our states to represent them in the Electoral College on December 19, 2016. We intend to discharge our duties as Electors by ensuring that we select a candidate for president who, as our Founding Fathers envisioned, would be “endowed with the requisite qualifications.” As Electors, we also believe that deliberation is at the heart of democracy itself, not an empty or formalistic task. We do not understand our sole function to be to convene in mid-December, several weeks after Election Day, and summarily cast our votes. To the contrary, the Constitution envisions the Electoral College as a deliberative body that plays a critical role in our system of government — ensuring that the American people elect a president who is constitutionally qualified and fit to serve. Accordingly, to fulfill our role as Electors, we seek an informed and unrestrained opportunity to fulfill our constitutional role leading up to December 19th — that is, the ability to investigate, discuss, and deliberate with our colleagues about whom to vote for in the Electoral College.
We further emphasize Alexander Hamilton’s assertion in Federalist Paper #68 that a core purpose of the Electoral College was to prevent a “desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.” The United States intelligence community has now concluded with “high confidence” that a foreign power, namely Russia, acted covertly to interfere in the presidential campaign with the intent of promoting Donald Trump’s candidacy. During the campaign Russia actively attempted to influence the election outcome through cyber attacks on our political institutions and a comprehensive propaganda campaign coordinated through Wikileaks and other outlets.
Allegations that Donald Trump was receiving assistance from a hostile foreign power to win the election began months before Election Day. When presented with information that the Russian government was interfering in the election through the course of the campaign, both in private briefings and public assessment, Donald Trump rejected it, refused to condemn it, and continued to accept their help. Donald Trump even made a direct plea to the Russian government to interfere further in the election in a press conference on July 27, saying, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
According to reports in the Washington Post, New York Times, and other outlets, the United States intelligence community has now concluded definitively that the Russian interference was performed to help Donald Trump get elected, yet even today Mr. Trump is refusing to accept that finding. In response to the reports, the Trump transition office instead released a statement which called into question the validity of United States intelligence findings, and declared the election over despite the Electoral College not yet casting its votes. Trump’s willingness to disregard conclusions made by the intelligence community and his continuing defense of Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin demand close scrutiny and deliberation from the Electoral College.
Separate from Mr. Trump’s own denials of Russian involvement in the election, the confirmed communication between Trump’s aides and those associated with the Russian election interference activity raise serious concerns that must be addressed before we cast our votes. Trump-confidant Roger Stone confirmed during the campaign that he was engaged in back-channel communications with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, responsible for releasing much of the Russian-hacked Democratic communications, and indicated that he was aware of the hacked content prior to its release. Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page reportedly visited Moscow in July of this year, just prior to the release of hacked DNC communications, during which it was believed he met with the Putin aide in charge of Russian intelligence on the U.S. election. Page returned to Moscow this week where he claimed to be meeting with Russian business and thought leaders.
In addition to Donald Trump and his aides’ conduct, revelations about their further involvement with the Russian government over the course of the campaign demand further investigation, as well as full disclosure of findings from any ongoing or closed investigative efforts:
Russian government officials revealed that they had maintained contact with the Trump campaign during the election, and stated that they were familiar with most of the individuals associated with Mr. Trump.
Media inquiries into whether the FBI was investigating Donald Trump’s July plea for Russian interference in the election resulted in a “Glomar response” neither confirming nor denying the existence of an investigation, rather than the more typical response of denying the request outright.
U.S. intelligence officials reportedly probed Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page in regard to travel to his Moscow during the campaign.
The FBI reportedly began an inquiry into Trump associates following reports of a multi-million dollar business relationship with pro-Putin figures in Ukraine and Russia, and reports of an effort to sway American public opinion in favor of Ukraine’s pro-Putin government.
Michael Flynn, Trump campaign aide and the announced incoming National Security Advisor, traveled to Russia in December of 2015 for a gala event celebrating RT, a state-controlled propaganda network, at which he was seated next to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Electors require to know from the intelligence community whether there are ongoing investigations into ties between Donald Trump, his campaign or associates, and Russian government interference in the election, the scope of those investigations, how far those investigations may have reached, and who was involved in those investigations. We further require a briefing on all investigative findings, as these matters directly impact the core factors in our deliberations of whether Mr. Trump is fit to serve as President of the United States.
Additionally, the Electors will separately require from Donald Trump conclusive evidence that he and his staff and advisors did not accept Russian interference, or otherwise collaborate during the campaign, and conclusive disavowal and repudiation of such collaboration and interference going forward.
We hope that the information and actions described in this letter will be provided in an expeditious manner, so that we can fulfill our constitutional duty as Electors.
Christine Pelosi (CA)
Micheal Baca (CO)
Anita Bonds (DC)
Courtney Watson (MD)
Dudley Dudley (NH)
Bev Hollingworth (NH)
Terie Norelli (NH)
Carol Shea-Porter (NH)
Clay Pell (RI)
Chris Suprun (TX)